As The Coupon Mom says, "I don't know when we all got too busy to wash lettuce."
I don't think anyone reading this blog can be so young that you cannot remember the days before pre-packaged salad greens took over the lettuce section. If you are this young, take my word for it, those days did exist. And they weren't that bad. I admit that I, on occasion, do buy a Caesar's Salad Kit. But for the most part I prefer to buy my own head of lettuce, saute up some homemade croutons, sprinkle some parmesan cheese and add a dollop or two of caesar's dressing. Amazingly, it's not that much more work. Maybe 10 extra minutes.
A salad kit at my store costs about $3.50 cents. It serves 3 people and turns all slimy and disgusting immediately after the meal. Even if I haven't mixed all of the greens into the salad, those bagged extra lettuce leaves are history before morning. Have you noticed this too? I'm not sure what special chemical they put inside that sealed plastic bag to keep the lettuce fresh, but as soon as it's opened, forget it. The magic is over.
On the other hand, an entire head of romaine lettuce (unwashed and uncut) costs less than $2.00. This one head, if properly washed, dried and stored in the fridge (taking less than 5 minutes) will last -- all fresh and crispy -- for nearly 2 weeks. And it will make a HUGE caesar's salad that would feed a family of 10! The croutons are almost free since I use stale bread that otherwise would be thrown out, and the cheese and dressing are bought on sale for a couple of dollars. The entire super-duper, large salad costs about $4. If, however, I make a salad the same size as the kit, the cost is about $1.
This kind of vegetable mark-up is becoming very common. The Coupon Mom says in her great book, The Coupon Mom's Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half, that she "saved $6.32 by washing [her] lettuce instead of buying the equivalent amount . . . of washed romaine. Some quick calculations show that works out to a "salary" of $76 per hour, or $3,040 per week, or more than $158,000 per year." (pg 140) That's a lot of money to have someone else wash your lettuce!